“Avenge me!” I tell my ten-year-old son.
“No,” he says.
“What? What do you mean? You’re my son. If an international gang of assassins comes, you have to avenge me.”
“Dad, they are assassins. I can’t avenge you.”
I take my eyes off the movie we are watching. There are a lot of sons avenging their fathers going on. At first, I just said it as a joke. But he said no. Who says “no” to avenging their father? And who says it on Father’s day? What the hell, man.
“So, wait, if I was unjustly slaughtered while defending humanity, you wouldn’t avenge me?”
I look at him. I mean, I really look at him. I try to decide what kind of boy I have raised. He’s smart, there’s no doubt about that. The boy has brains for days. But apparently, he also has no loyalty to his father.
“Are you spineless, boy?” I ask.
He rolls off the couch and thumps on the floor. That’s the way he is moving around nowadays. He turned ten and suddenly walking is for suckers. So he jumps, plops, and in general wrecks things.
“Dad,” he says. “I’m not going to avenge you.”
“Because it is pointless. What are you doing that would make people like that go after you? Maybe you’re the bad guy.”
“Don’t turn this around on me, boy. Sons are supposed to avenge their fathers. What if I am saving the world? Have you ever thought about that? I’m the good guy. I’m dad.”
“I’m not avenging you. I can’t, I’m only ten.”
“Then grow up. Study hard, become the head of some super secret avenging organization. Avenge me.”
“That sounds like a lot of work.”
“Would you avenge me?” I ask my daughter who is so engrossed in her phone that she hasn’t heard a word that I’ve said.
“No,” she says.
I forgive her because she says no to everything that I ask her. It doesn’t matter what I ask her, the answer is always no. She doesn’t really mean it. She would avenge me.
“Not a chance,” she says as if she just read my mind.
“But it’s Father’s day! You know what I want for today, the one gift that I really want?” I ask.
“What?” they say.
“I want someone to avenge me.”
“No,” they both say.
“What about you, monkey boy?” I ask my youngest. Let’s face it, my two older kids are cowards, and I should probably just stop counting on them to avenge me. I’ve given them too easy of a life. I have made things like a palace around here so it is no surprise that they act like spineless royalty. It’s completely un-American, and I apologize to our founders for my mistakes.
But my youngest—my little five-year-old son—I have done right by him. I have encouraged him in his fight against his older siblings. I have given him shelter when he bit off more than he can chew. And when he’s not looking, I jump into the fight and always take his side. My boy will avenge me.
“Boy, I’m talking to you. Put down the videos and answer me. Will you avenge me?”
He looks up from Kids.YouTube, some video with bright colors and avenging sons. His face crinkles as if he is considering the question.
“Avenge me, boy. Avenge me.”
“No!” he says before running away to go find his mother.
There’s the weak link. Their mother. This is her fault. It’s all her talk of love and kindness, of not avenging fathers. This isn’t on me. It’s on her. I get up from the couch and go to the freezer. I pull out a popsicle, special treats for Father’s Day.
I hear a couple of pairs of feet crashing into the floor as I unwrap my treat. I don’t turn around.
“We want one! Yea, it’s time for popsicles.”
“Nope,” I say. I’m not angry, my voice is level.
“Popsicles are only for children the avenge their father. You two saps get yard work.”
And like that, the international of assassins are born. I am the creator of my own doom.
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(via The Good Men Project)